All of humanity has two things in common. First, we don’t like to be told how to live. Second, we like to tell others how to live. Try to disagree and you end up in category one. Jesus knew this when He said the words captured in Matthew 7:1-2. However, His words have been twisted by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Either we like to twist this verse because we don’t want others telling us what to do, or because we can tell others what to do—to stop being so judgmental! Either way, we’re adding our intentions into the Scripture, not drawing His truth out of it.
“How can you still not spell this word? We’ve practiced every night for the last three days!” I say to my six-year-old daughter as I recall winning—or maybe losing—my elementary spelling bee. We’ve all been there. Maybe it was hitting a ball, working an equation, fitting into a dress, making a grade, getting into a college, or starting the right profession. At some point, we’ve found our hope firmly seated on a one-way train steaming ahead off the steep cliff of living vicariously through the very people who were intended to “spring off” of us. Yet we know our offspring should be motivated by our momentum, not halted by our hang-ups.
On an otherwise innocent Sunday afternoon, an otherwise innocent four-year-old boy climbed to the top of a mountain and chucked a stolen necklace as far as he could. That morning, I came across the necklace in my Sunday School class at our North Hollywood church where my dad happened to be the new pastor. I loved seashells, and the necklace had no shortage of them. When it was time to eat animal crackers and juice, I must’ve put it in my pocket. You know, so some other heathen kid who didn’t appreciate seashells wouldn’t try to play with it. Fast forward, and I’m at home later that day. I reached into my pocket and my little fingers discovered my inadvertent plunder. My post-toddler logic decided that chucking it off the hill was the best way to avoid being found out.
A stick figure drawing of a girl riding non-descript kid’s play-thing hangs proudly on my fridge with these wobbly-written words, “I want a schuder for Christmas.” I investigate the image with my 6-year-old daughter to discover she’s prompting Santa to remember her scooter request. Side note: since she was 3-years-old, I’ve been trying to convince her Santa is pretend and I actually buy the gifts.
I write this dandy blog entry on day 346 of the year 2015. You may be reading it on day 350-something, or perhaps someday in 2016. If we’re counting days, then we’re probably keeping track of our place in time, and our progress too. Like, “I started writing this post 15 minutes ago, and I’m only a few sentences in.” Like, “We’ve been trying to pay off our Death-Star-sized school debt since Darth Vader was still a cute, blond Skywalker.” Like, “We’ve been asking God to heal this, restore that relationship, provide for this, and help us realize our purpose for six months, five years,” or maybe a lifetime.
If you’ve been around church much, you’ve probably heard the miraculous story of Lazarus. He’s the guy who died, was put in a tomb for four days, and Jesus still raised his stanky legs back to life. In fact, unless you heard Pastor Craig’s message this week, that’s likely the only way you’ve heard the story. However, as Pastor Craig pointed out, that’s not really how it’s written. Don’t believe me? Read John 11:1-44 right quick.
You step into a repurposed old brick building onto a concrete floor. You pass a wall of hanging succulents and nearly trip over a hand-made, steel and plywood stand with six different local food magazines. You stop at a beautiful, locally sourced, wooden countertop where you can choose from exactly five different combinations of caffeine and milk. Don’t ask for sugar; you will be removed. A macchiato never includes caramel, and it’s a drink sized for a squirrel. You’ve entered a hipster coffee shop. If you just realized this, you’re probably not a hipster.
Quitting cigarettes is pretty difficult, so you quit quitting them and start smoking again. Or, maybe you’re trying to start actually moving your body to the extent that you use more calories than you consume. Then, approximately 8.3 days later, you quit that too. Maybe you quit jobs too often, or you give up trying to get better in your marriage, or you stop reading the Bible. What’s your quitting habit?
Don’t you love Bible jokes? What would Boaz be if he didn’t marry Ruth? Ruthless. No, not that kind of Bible joke. I’m talking about when it feels like the Bible pulls a fast one on you. Like when you assume a tiny, Old Testament book named after some obscure character might not be all that relevant, and then it’s like, “BAM, here’s the answer to all your life’s problems.”
Have you ever helped a toddler learn how to build a tower? The kind they’ll destroy seconds before it’s finished? On your solid base, both of you build upward. Then, with a spark in his eye, your building buddy introduces the full force of his fist to the weakest part of your tower. Now, you let the toddler build his own tower. Perhaps you’ll get your turn to topple. Yet, his tower repeatedly falls before it’s tall enough to be called a tower at all.
Topics: stay positive